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Heel Tough Blog: 5 Key Questions for UNC Basketball in 2022-23

Basketball season is on the horizon as UNC is preparing to face UNC Wilmington on Monday. The Heels enter the season as the No. 1 team in the country, but they enter the season with questions. I’ll ask those questions and then give my answers. Welcome back College Basketball!

1. Can Pete Nance Replace Brady Manek at the 4?

Pete Nance was one of the best transfers on the market during the offseason. After UNC missed out on Michael Mayer of Baylor, there was only one choice to replace Manek, and that was Nance. He averaged 14.6 points per game at Northwestern last season to go along with 6.5 rebounds and 45.2% 3pt shooting. He played extremely well in the Heels exhibition game with 19 points on 8-13 shooting. He has the potential to be exactly what Manek was last year: a pick-and-roll, down-screen demon, and a solid secondary rebounder when Armando Bacot is off the floor.

2. Does the Bench Have Enough Firepower to Help the Starters?

All the experts ask this question, pointing out the fact that UNC struggled when they turned to their bench last year. This isn’t last year, and Hubert Davis has made sure his bench is stacked. UNC’s bench is more than capable in the backcourt with freshman Seth Trimble and Sophomore D’marco Dunn ready to step up and receive playing time. Dunn started the exhibition game when RJ Davis was out with a hand injury and Trimble played well off the bench as well for the Heels with 11 points. In the frontcourt, UNC is loaded with depth. Dontrez Styles provides a nice compliment to Nance at the four and when UNC needs a backup center, freshmen Tyler Nickel and Will Shaver will be ready. Of note: UNC did not even have the best recruit Hubert Davis brought in over the offseason. Jalen Washington, when he gets healthy, will likely be the backup to Bacot in the middle. Puff Johnson will be the wing back up to Leaky Black.

3. Is the Backcourt of Caleb Love and RJ Davis Ready to Live up to the Preseason Hype?

UNC fans were ecstatic when both Love and Davis announced that they were coming back for another year of basketball with hopes of running it back to the championship and this time winning it. The two combined for 29.4 points per game and 7.2 assists per game last season and both come back with all the confidence in the world. Without them returning, UNC would have been a lower tier Top 25 team at best. With them, they are the best team in the country. They are the X-factors, and they are more than capable of living up to that hype.

4. Is Armando Bacot the Best Player in the ACC?

If last season is any indication, yes he is! Bacot was unstoppable on the boards and also added in some nice post moves for scores throughout the season. He has tried to become a shooter, but the Heels clearly did not need him for that, so he went back to the inside. He is a monster in the pick-and-roll, plays good post-defense, and finds the open man well when he has to. He set records for double-doubles last year with 31 total. He averaged 16.5 points per game on the year and an ACC-leading and 3rd in the country with 13.1 rebounds per game. He is the best player until somebody usurps his throne, and who is out there that can do that?

5. Can UNC Overcome the Always Difficult ACC Schedule?

The ACC schedule is always challenging, and with UNC scheduled to play four games vs. ranked opponents in ACC play, (with more certainly possible,) this year is no exception. The Heels play their two top challengers for the ACC crown twice Duke and Virginia. They also have several difficult road games against teams like Wake Forest and Syracuse. The Heels certainly are more talented than these teams, but they will be bringing their best to knock off the No. 1 Tar Heels, so they better be ready.

UNC will play UNC Wilmington on Monday at 9 pm on ACC Network. This kicks off a 5 game home stand to open the season. The fans are hyped up and ready to cheer on this year's Tar Heels! Will it be the year the Heels seal the deal?

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